Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lakers push series to limit

Technically, the goal had all the beauty of a kindergarten-level fingerpainting.
To Cam Jackson and the Fort Frances Lakers, however, it was the Mona Lisa.

Jackson’s shot through a Lyndon Lipinski screen somehow found its way into the net at 4:30 of overtime to give the Lakers an exhilarating 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Iron Rangers last night in Hoyt Lakes to square the SIJHL final at 3-3.
For those who liked last night’s drama, which saw the Lakers cough up a 3-1 lead with less than six minutes left in the third period before recovering just in time, there should be plenty more of it for Game 7 tomorrow night at the Ice For Kids Arena here.
This time, it will be winner-take-all, including a berth in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup on April 29-May 3 in Wellington.
“This is a lot of fun . . . what can I say,” beamed Jackson, who now has game-winning goals in two-straight games after scoring first in the Lakers’ 2-0 victory in Game 5 here Saturday night.
“Game 7, that’s what it’s all about,” he added.
“We knew we could do it. Now it’s our chance to prove it.”
Jackson’s heroics came five seconds after the Rangers had killed off T.J. Samec’s tripping penalty for taking down Miles Nolan.
But before Samec could get back into the play, Jackson pinched in deep from his usual blueline position and took a shot that appeared to deflect into the air, then off the back of Iron Rangers’ goalie Alex Reichle’s jersey and the back of his goalstick before trickling into the net.
“Down 3-1 in the series, a lot of our guys were pretty down,” admitted Lipinski, part of the Lakers’ high-scoring “DLM Line” that had been quiet most of the series before coming up big last night by racking up a combined nine points.
“But the coaching staff all believed in us,” Lipinski noted.
“They kept telling us we’ve still got this and that in a seven-game series, being down 3-1 doesn’t mean [anything].”
Behind another solid night from goalie Jordan Cartney (28 saves), the Lakers seemed in good shape at 11:03 of the third after DeBenedet whistled a wrist shot past Reichle to put the visitors up by two.
But Jonathon Losurdo
one-timed an Austin Frank pass behind Cartney at 14:26.
Then Trevor Hoth, with Jackson in the box for tripping, zipped the puck from the left face-off circle past Cartney to tie the contest at 15:42 and send the jam-packed crowd of rabid Iron Rangers’ fans into a frenzy.
But Jackson’s tally turned the home crowd’s mood from joy to rage, with a number of fans voicing profanity-laced farewells to both the Lakers and the officiating crew as they left the ice.
Max Seiter had given Minnesota the 1-0 lead at 18:52 of the first.
The Lakers’ offence finally woke up late in the second period when DeBenedet intercepted a clearing pass up the middle and walked in before feeding Mason Meyer for a quick shot at 17:56.
Then, with just 8.6 seconds on the clock and Jay Routheau off for slashing, DeBenedet and Meyer double-teamed a Rangers’ defender behind the net—forcing a turnover that Lyndon Lipinski shovelled past Reichle.
The victory was extra special for Lakers’ assistant coach Grant Perreault, who found out yesterday he would be bench boss for the night due to the impending arrival of Lakers’ general manager and head coach Wayne Strachan’s new son, who reportedly came into the world shortly after the opening face-off.
“The team held their composure and stuck to the game plan,” lauded Perreault.
“The boys on the bench stayed positive, and I knew they would get through the adversity and rise to the occasion,” he added.

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